Effects of acute sleep deprivation on state anxiety levels: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Sleep Med. 2016 Aug:24:109-118. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2016.07.019. Epub 2016 Aug 27.


Increased anxiety levels have been widely recognized as one of the most important consequences of sleep deprivation. However, despite this general consensus, there are still aspects of this relationship, such as the extent of the anxiogenic potential and the specific effects of different types of sleep deprivation, which remain unclear. As no broad review has been undertaken to evaluate this relationship, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis regarding the effects of sleep deprivation on state anxiety. Our search strategy encompassed two databases - Pubmed/Medline and Scopus - through which we were able to identify 756 articles. After the selection process, 18 articles, encompassing 34 experiments, composed our final sample. Our analyses indicate that sleep deprivation, whether total or not, leads to a significant increase in state anxiety levels, but sleep restriction does not. Regarding the effect of the length of the period of sleep deprivation, no significant results were observed, but there was a notable tendency for an increase in anxiety in longer sleep deprivations. With regard to tools, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) seems to be the best one to measure sleep-induced anxiogenesis, while the Profile of Mood States (POMS) presented inconclusive results. In conclusion, it can be affirmed that sleep deprivation induces a state of increased anxiety, with similar results also in the case of total sleep deprivation; however, results in more specific experimental conditions are not definitive.

Keywords: Anxiety; Anxiogenesis; Meta-analysis; Sleep; Sleep deprivation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation*